See the chimps at Gombe Stream
At only 20 square kilometres (12.5 square miles) Gombe Stream is a gem of a park and Tanzania’s smallest. But visitors to Gombe don’t come expecting vast expanses, they come here to see man’s closest cousin: the chimpanzee. It was the primatologist Jane Goodall who put Gombe Stream on the map with her pioneering research into wild chimpanzee behaviour, which led to the discovery that man was not the only animal that used tools and that chimps hunted and ate other animals.
Gombe is a thin strip of lush forest on the sandy northern shore of Lake Tanganyika. Jane Goodall founded the research station here in 1960 and the reserve is now famous throughout the world. The park is a hotspot of biodiversity and chimpanzees are not the only primates to be found here – there is also a troop of olive beachcomber baboons and numerous red-tailed, vervet and red colobus monkeys.
It is possible to walk in the forest and see the chimps, but they range widely from one day to the next so you must allow a few days at Gombe to guarantee an encounter. Apart from chimp spotting, you can also take a boat out on the lake, go snorkelling, swimming and hiking through the jungle. Snorkelers can see over 100 kinds of colourful cichlid fish.
From here you can visit Ujiji, Tanzania’s oldest town and the place where in 1871 Henry Stanley who upon meeting the explorer David Livingston, who was missing and presumed dead, uttered the immortal words ‘Doctor Livingstone, I presume?’
The best time to go is during the two dry seasons, from July to October, and during late December.